Thoughts in Perspective

Monday, April 30, 2012

Their Version of Peace, the Peace Bomb

Peace can be understood in two ways, first you have peace as the state of harmony, the lack of conflict, and secondly you have peace as death. This being said, the American method of bringing peace in the world is highly effective, although, it refers to the second definition and, so, their achievements are not to be commended but condemned. Sadly, people are so brainwashed with American propaganda that even if you think and know that the United States is using the world as a playground, you are unlikely to take a stand. We shouldn't reject American culture, it definitely has many positive elements, what we should reject and actively oppose is their desire to take over the world through their self-centered mentality that feeds on false patriotism.

Everyone should take life in their own hands, nobody should rely on anyone for help and if help comes, it usually has a cost and it's up to you to accept or refuse. Assuming this doesn't apply to geopolitics is like assuming that on the Moon people no longer need to breath. I would like to see America developing a national consensus on what is good and productive. Acting like a superhero with a dissociative identity disorder in neither good, nor productive. I hope as many American people will read this article. If you see someone who considers himself the richest, smartest and most powerful man on the planet, you don't expect him to attack a homeless individual which could possibly be envious of his success. If he does that he is not much greater than him. This can translate into Bush Jr. transforming the American nation into sheepherders. The amount of anger the Taliban and other militant Islamist movements show against the West is disproportionately increased and redirected back to them, and in the process countless innocent people die. 

Other articles on the United States and related:  / :  دیگر مقالات در مورد آمریکا و مرتبط

Friday, April 27, 2012

Persian Lesson 01 - Vowels

Image from Isfahan Bazar
Persian, or Farsi as it is called when referring to the language spoken in Iran, is beautiful and surprisingly easy to learn, once you master the alphabet. It is an Indo-European language, just like almost all European languages (which spread all over the world). Although it makes use of the Arabic alphabet, the two are rather different, Arabic coming from a totally different tree, the Semitic. Persian is considered for centuries, a noble language, mainly because of the impressive poetic and philosophical works written in it.

There are many Persian language lessons on the web, I went through most of them and although my understanding of this language is still rather limited due to vocabulary issues, I decided to share with you some things I discovered along the way. I repeat that I am not a professor of this language and I will only write things I know, which should be enough for beginners and for the intermediate.

First of all, the most difficult part for me have been the vowels. Sure, there are vowels in Persian, here they are:  
- و  -  u, o, and which is actually the letter v. At the beginning of a word it is written after the 'a' (with the 'a' letter not pronounced), for example:  او  which means 'he/she/it' and is pronounced 'u' ;

- ا , آ  -  a, the first form (the one on the left) is used at the beginning of words and it is read 'a', the second form is used at the beginning of words while it can also be used in the middle. When at the beginning it is pronounced more like an 'e/i' or not pronounced at all. For example:  امروز   which means 'today' and is pronounced 'emruz'

- ی -  i, this is the final form of the letter, unlike the first two letters presented here, 'i' can be linked with another letter to the left. For example دیروز   which means 'yesterday' and is pronounced 'diruz' and  آبی (notice the آ )  which means 'blue' and is pronounced 'abi'. In the first case, the letter 'i' is linked with the letter 'r' and in the second example the letter 'i' is presented in its final form.

Now comes the difficult part, Persian, like I said earlier, is an Indo-European language that uses a form of the Arabic alphabet and the result is that not all vowels are written in a word, but they are nonetheless pronounced.

Tajrish bazar, Tehran
Let's try a verb now so I can explain what I mean. 'To go' is  رفتن   and is pronounced 'raeftaen', something more like 'raftan', this is the infinitive form. As you see there are two vowels not written, the one between 'r' and 'f' and between 't' and 'n'.  رَفتَن  See the lines above the 'r' and 't' letters? These help you tell that after the 'r' you will say 'a' and after that 'f', these are not really letters, but more like "short vowel markers" and are rarely used, so be careful. There are another two such signs and I will use the letter 't' to show them.
تِ = t(e)
تُ = t(o) 
We will now make a sentence, anxious?  

او به بازار دیروز رفت
This translates as 'He to bazar yesterday went' or, adapted to English: He went to the bazar yesterday. [U beh bazar diruz raft]. Observe the structure: Subject - Object - Time - Verb. It is in Simple Past Tense
I think it's time to stop now, let me know what you think about this first lesson in the comment box, it is, after all, my first.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Rally of Honour and modern day geopolitics

One of the lessons we must learn from the Nazi moment is that democracy is a good soil for the emergence of totalitarianism (popular support legitimizes authoritarian power). Hitler, nazi thinkers and those who backed them found an excellent occasion to come to power through using the need of the German people to regain their glory and honour. Even more, the promise of becoming a master and superior race surely caught the attention of many, while the threat of the 'Jewish race', real or not, is not much different from the threat posed by terrorists in our time.

The major difference is that Nazi Germany was heavy around race, so it needed a 'race enemy' (with no home country, but powerful enough to be credible) while America is 'land of the free', so it needs an enemy that opposes this freedom (formerly it was Communism). We must learn history so that we will not repeat the (intentional) mistakes. Perpetually condemning or victimizing a country or a race is just wrong. Evidently, things are not as simple as I made them appear, but one thing is clear, when people perceive a danger (real or not), they naturally unite in order to oppose that danger, and usually they partially give up on their own liberties. The same psychology also applies to objectives. After learning this, apply it to modern day events and politics and see where this leads you. What are our real enemies and what should be our objectives?

This image is from the 8th party Congress, known as the "Rally of Honour" because of the re-militarization of the Rhineland, and so, the restoration of German honor.

    Nazi Party rally at Zeppelinfeld, Nuremberg, Germany, 8 Sep 1936; the structure was designed by Albert Speer - German Federal Archive


Monday, April 23, 2012

Edward Hopper (visual) and Ernest Farres (text)

Presenting poetry and paintings together isn't something new, I remember reading that Turner had the habit of presenting a few verses along with his works. Not many artists have/had this interest, Edward Hopper, as it seems, didn't have it. Nonetheless, all is not lost, and thanks to the internationalized American culture, we can now read poems created by the Catalan writer, Ernest Farres, that are inspired, or for a better choice of words, are dedicated to Hopper's paintings.

Hopper was fascinated by lights and shadows, not like Caravaggio... and not like Turner either... for him, these played a central role in the painting itself. There are mostly two degrees, rarely something in between. He renders American life from his own personal perspective and I like to point out that in his paintings, people usually can be found reading, sitting, waiting and occasionally, engaged in conversation. Not the moment for a detailed article about him and his work, but I will write it, eventually. Overall, I admire his clean and precise style, it has a calm inducing effect on my psyche, which is a good thing.

Farres wrote the volume entitled Edward Hopper in 2006 in Catalan, so what you will read here are translations made by Lawrence Venuti. I am more of a traditionalist when it comes to verses but I found his poems excellent with and without the paintings by their side. Enjoy.


1909 - Summer Interior

1923 - East River
The greatest influence
     my reading of Siddartha
     exercised on me
     had much to do with rivers.
Ever since that moment
     they acquired a meaning
     most profound and symbolic.
     For a while I’ve played with the edge
of knowing we live in a never-ending
     dream. I refer to an urban dream jam-packed
     with buildings, hydrocarbons, aromatic mint teas,
     textile factories, tanneries, and a river
that reflects the essence of dusk and provokes
     a weird effect, cathartic and liberating. The city
     institutes laws and rivers are rebels that try their damndest
     to break them (although they rarely get away with it).
Every river is a type
     of dream that lies inside
     a more global dream of life,
     and flowing it resembles us:
descending from pretty far away
     by fits and starts, it disseminates
     and embodies the spirit
     of what could have been.



1925 - House by the Railroad

1926 -     Railroad Sunset - Whitney Museum of American Art

1931 - The Barber Shop

1932 - Room in New York

1933 - Burly Cobb's House, South Truro

1937 - Sheridan Theatre

1938 - Compartment C, Car 193
Face stern, hair
more or less blonde, eyes
with an inward-looking glint,
skin in the pink, wearing
a stare-till-you're-bored attitude
in a black dress that hugged her breasts
and a pair of long legs, in good working order,
she looked real swell, sure enough,
and "independent," as the saying goes.

The down time on the train was just
the ticket for stealing looks at her
as she sat across the aisle, reading
—poor kid— with such concentration
that at dusk she completely missed
the sun's last rays burning in the west,
stuck to the limitless vault of the sky.



1940 - Office at Night - Walker Art Center
They stayed at the office, at night, alone,
and the tense atmosphere
wherein they find themselves plunges them
into uncertainty. The workplace
is their habitat, the substitute
for their homes. Forces
suprapersonal constrain
them both (this is called not letting on).
Beyond the slightest doubt,
shyness has taken root in them.
After knocking off, their cares are less intense
and before long forgotten (Deo gratias).
Private people suffering in private places
or, better than places, in a warren
of white walls and functional furniture.
Disturbed when confronting the idea
of a night sky filled with stars, the man,
the atomized and lonely man,
clings to the messiness of his desk.
The woman, standing at the file cabinet,
fishes for documents or something-or-other.
Sure enough, said woman’s dreams
and the man’s scruples converge
in a chronic fiasco. Anxiety
invades her till she loses
every point of reference.
This is the closed circle
through which they sink
from spiritual withdrawal
to absolute, physical solitude.


Poems mainly taken from The International Literary Quarterly, thanks.
Till next time, research these two artists, tell me if you like Hopper, yes or no, motivate your opinions, this also goes for Farres.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tetro [Movie / 2009]

A couple of weeks ago I watched this movie called Tetro and I found it absolutely great. To be honest it's one of those movies I can't write about, by itself it gives birth to artistic creativity, not critique. The film noir elements are really something I admire (go to: The man who wasn't there) and the fact that the main character is an unsuccessful writer definitely sparked my interest. Vincent Galla is really suited for the role of Tetro. The story is something like this, Tetro, the writer, living the classical life of an artist barely coping with his genius, gets a visit from his brother and in a couple of days things start to boil. Tetro has completely broken all relations with his family, more exactly his father, and finds his younger brother a not so desirable presence. The moment when Bennie, the younger brother, finds Tetro's unfinished book, his own questions start to be answered and truth finds it's way into the lives of both. The director is Francis Ford Coppola. Soundtrack by Dante Anzolini.


Track 2: Love, Angie. Bernardo Monk on saxophone.

Other Movies / دیگر فیلمها

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Anastasia Zharkova (visual) and Zemfira (audio)

Zemfira (left) and Anastasia (right).
Russian art and spirituality are some very captivating and emblematic elements of the global culture, we, however, will not stop at the consecrated names now. Zemfira Ramazanova is a Russian rock artist of Bashkir descent. At the age of four she became interested in music and one year later she was sent to a music school. As time passed she started to become more and more interested in rock music. Apparently she has a powerful personality which often gets her in the news and on the first pages of the tabloids in Russia. This could also be explained by the fact that, as I was led to believe, she was the first female rocker in the country that actually challenged the male dominated podium.



The song 'Skazki' means 'fairy tale' and for lyrics click here, an English translation is to be found here. The album is '14 Nedel Tishini', meaning '14 weeks of silence', from 2002. For her official English site, click here.


Anastasia Zharkova studied industrial design and is interested in photography with some experiments in painting and drawing. You will now meet her as a young and promising photographer, enjoy. The portraits ('Kseniya and Elen) are especially well done in my opinion, the first, slightly contemplative black and white with the model looking somewhere down with her face turned to the left and her eyes not meeting ours. She is neither smiling, nor is she sad, a type of ambiguity that gives an aura of mystery. The second is different and although Anastasia makes evident use of her qualities, the lights, colors, and the position of the model who is looking straight at us,with no inhibitions, slightly upwards with her head tilted to the left showing more of the right side of the face while covering the left with her hair and all this while being rather undressed... well... damn, classic flirting in my opinion (and let's not forget the bed). These two images are excellent together.

Kseniya
Elen

Air
Bathroom (not finished)
Last day of my summer
Moment on the backroad [another great photo]

Picture from the 'Ostuni' series
'Last day of my summer' and 'Moment on the backroad' go hand in hand due to their use of light and color. Also interesting to point out is the fact that one has antennas and the other has a book, it may be accidental but I see a message here. Overall, Anastasia has great talent and I'm looking forward to seeing more works from her. Check her flicker account here.

Till next time, all the best,
Florin

Sunday, April 8, 2012

HOPKINS, David - Modernism in Retreat: Minimalist Aesthetics and Beyond (1)

Today we will begin a journey into Minimalism and as a map (or, to be more modern, GPS... or modern still, GLONASS) we will use the chapter "Modernism in Retreat: Minimalist Aesthetics and Beyond" from the book "After Modern Art: 1945-2000" by David Hopkins.

First of all, what is Minimalism? To put it as clear and simple as possible, if you manage to create something by expressing only its essence, without any additional elements, you have made yourself a minimalist work of art. I will distance myself from the article a little, but this concept is actually not that new and while the reasons may vary, people at various times in history tried to remove unnecessary ornaments, art, like anything else, is cyclical.

Ad Reinhardt - Abstract Painting, No. 6 - 1960/61
Coming back to the book, Hopkins starts with "the non-relational" and speaks about Reinhardt, Stella and Judd. Ad Reinhardt is actually considered an abstract expressionist but during the final decade of his life, more exactly between 1955 and 1967, he created a series of "black" paintings. The idea was that compositional incidents needed to be removed, this led him to create the monochromes. He was also interested in mysticism. Stella Frank is one of the front-line minimalist artists "deduced the internal logic of paintings such as 'Die Fahne Hoch' from their nature as objects". It may seem that he prefers a minimal use of rationalism in art. Just to spice things up a little, some people have been of the opinion that his works "encode a fascination with fascistic forms of domination" while others see in them only the darker side of New York, I tend to agree with both statements. Hopkins goes on to point out the obvious by stating that the American art environment of the time was more interested in promoting the "brands" and making money. Donald Judd was thinking much like Stella, both of them priding with the fact that their works were non-relational, "this meant they were structurally self-evident and pragmatically ordered according to a principle of 'one thing after another', thereby shaking off the fussy 'relational' characteristics of much previous art" (as Hopkins puts it).

Stella Frank - The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, II - 1959
In the second part of this segment, "Minimalism and anti-rationalism" is discussed. He mentions a 1965 essay by the British philosopher Richard Wollheim from which the tag "minimalist" was derived, his ideas were nonetheless not accepted by the artists themselves. Judd's ordering system was anti-rationalist "because the logic of 'one thing after another' obviated the need for aesthetic decisions". Sol LeWitt also tried to undermine rationality while in the same time presenting himself as one of the first practitioners of Conceptual Art in articles from 1967 and 1969. "The idea becomes a machine that makes the art".

Download it here. Thanks to Ubuntu One.
Keep knowledge free and curiosity everlasting.


Additional links:
Poul Webb Art Blog - Ad Reinhardt
Siong Chin - Frank Stella

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Change, could it be now?

The Iranian national television and the Israeli newspaper Haaretz made public the announcements of both Ali Reza Salari and Ilan Elgar, the ambassador of Iran to Switzerland and of Israel to Switzerland respectively, to officially restart diplomatic relations between the two states. Ahmadinejad and Peres are expected to meet next week in an effort to ease tension and promote dialogue and peace. This drastic turn in Middle Eastern relations has caught many world leaders unprepared and although they have yet to come out with official declarations, they praised the decision. Also, Wikileaks released a document from the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in which it is explicitly said that in the following decade all major economies will start to reduce military expenditure to under one percent of GDP and heavily invest in research, health and education. This document still has to be confirmed by the countries in question, although people in charge with organizing the event have confirmed that such talks existed.

In my opinion these events would explain why we have politicians and expensive "summits"... but these events are not real, so... sadly, our politicians are useless. I took advantage of the fact that today is April 1st, (an international fools' day, more or less), to write something that I wished to be real. How wonderful would it be if, instead of documents showing what countries to bomb next, all these "forums" would "hide" documents where humanity, development and peace are promoted. Sadly, most of our politicians talk nice and stab us in the back after the press conference. Don't be a spectator, this game is played for your future, get in there and be an activist, let's change these incompetent fools with wise and intelligent people. 

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